By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern women's basketball program earned a critical Ohio Athletic Conference victory Wednesday evening, toppling the Wilmington Quakers 64-55 at Raizk Arena in Wilmington, Ohio to halt a recent two-game losing skid.
With the win, the Polar Bears improve to 11-7 overall, including a 5-6 mark against the conference loop. More importantly, the victory gives ONU sole possession of seventh place in the league standings, breaking a three-way tie with Wilmington and Heidelberg, who fell 78-54 at Baldwin Wallace Wednesday evening.
The Quakers dropped to an even 9-9 mark overall and own a 4-7 record in the OAC following their midweek loss.
Junior center Emily Mescher (Maria Stein/Marion Local) topped three double-figure scorers for the Polar Bears with 14 points on Hermann Court. Additionally, she would chip in a career-high 11 rebounds for her second double-double this season, leading ONU to an impressive 45-28 advantage on the glass Wednesday night.
Freshman guard Lexi Jacobs (Wapakoneta) posted a career-high 13 points off the bench on five-for-seven shooting, and senior guard Jenna Dirksen (Beavercreek/Carroll) tossed in 12 points to round out those with double-digit outings. Both guards knocked down two three-point field goals in the contest while the latter also registered five rebounds and two steals in the winning effort.
For the Quakers, guard Kennedy Lewis contributed a team-high 16 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals.
In the first period, the home side bolted out to an early 7-2 advantage over the first 2:11. From there, Wilmington would go ice cold from the floor and miss their remaining 11 first-quarter opportunities. Northern responded to the Quakers' shooting woes with their own 12-0 run to close the opening stanza and take charge with a 14-7 lead at the first break.
Northern tried to pull away several times throughout the remaining three quarters, but the Quakers would not bow out quietly to their conference foes. The Polar Bears would eventually build their lead to a game-high 12 points in the third period's closing minute, which gave Ohio Northern the momentum heading into the final frame.
Facing a nine-point deficit with 10 minutes remaining, the Quakers rattled off the first five points in the final period and kept the scoreline close before eventually cutting the lead to three with 3:50 in regulation. Moments later, Manley connected on a three-pointer to kickstart a short 6-0 scoring spurt to put the Polar Bears back up nine.
Down the stretch, Dirksen, Manley, and sophomore guard Emily Brock (Akron/Revere) each drained two free throws to seal the program's eleventh win this season.
The Polar Bears are scheduled to return home this Saturday afternoon when they host Mount Union in an Ohio Athletic Conference showdown inside the ONU Sports Center. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. in Ada.